3 February 2022

How to produce an audiobook with Amazon ACX in seven steps

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US
Audible and iTunes

I’d always thought the costs of producing an audiobook would be a stretch, so was encouraged to learn that Amazon’s ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) offers a ‘profit sharing’ deal, where authors can sign up to a 50:50 royalty split with the narrator.

I considered making a one off payment but liked the idea of entering into a partnership with the narrator, who has an equal stake in the success of the finished work. ACX is part of Audible.Com and a subsidiary of Amazon. As the author, you decide how your audiobook is produced, who narrates it, and select your distribution channels.

To enter into a royalty share deal, you need to select exclusive distribution of the audiobook through Audible, Amazon and iTunes. Royalties of 40% are paid for exclusive distribution projects, so the rights holder and producer each earn 20% from each sale.

Here are the seven steps to take you from your edited manuscript to a completed audiobook:

Step One: Preparing your ‘pitch’

Once you’ve registered with ACX at https://www.acx.com you can set up your first ‘project’. You need to confirm you have audio rights for your book, then you will be guided through preparing your ‘pitch’. You want to attract the best possible choice of professional narrators, so it’s important to spend some time on this. For example, I emphasised the international sales and reviews and included a link to the YouTube trailer. I also adapted the synopsis, highlighting the elements I thought would be important to any potential narrators. You'll also need to upload a two-page excerpt from your book as an Audition Script for potential narrators.

Step Two: Selecting your narrator

Wait to see who expresses an interest or listen to sample narrations (which you can filter by genre, gender, accent etc.,) and invite producers to audition for your book.  As well as listening to auditions, you can look at the bio of potential narrators and discuss their approach. I had an encouraging response for Katherine - Tudor Duchess and chose British actress Ruth Redman, who has the perfect narration style, and was a pleasure to work with. 

Step Three: Agreeing the deal

You can make an offer to a producer on the special Production Offer Page – and if they accept you can create a deal on ACX. It is recommended that negotiations take place within the ACX messaging system to document what has been agreed.

Step Four: Listen to fifteen minute sample

It is important to make sure you are happy with the tone and pace of the narration, as this is where you agree what might eventually become eight or nine hours of recording. 

Listen to a short excerpt, narrated by Ruth Redman:

Step Five: Listen to each chapter

I’d underestimated how much of a challenge this is, as you need to be vigilant for any pronunciation issues or changes of pace or style. You can ask the narrator to make up to two rounds of corrections to your finished audiobook and when you're content with the final version you pay your producer directly, unless you agreed a royalty share.

Step Six: Prepare audiobook artwork

I adapted the printed book cover to create the square format,  although you could opt for a complete redesign if this isn't practical. Once you are happy with the artwork you simply upload it and ACX do the rest once it has passed their quality check.  

Step Seven: Promote the new audiobook

As with any book, there is a close correlation between time spent raising awareness and royalties earned through sales. I'm please to say I now have eight of my books produced as audio editions, and they have become a useful source of income. I've also had very positive feedback from people with vision impairment and others who like to listen to audiobooks on long journeys.  

Tony Riches

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